Known by colleagues and friends as “Jack,” Davis was born on December 19, 1927 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Before going to college, he served in the United States Navy from 1945 to 1946. He then went on to the University of Minnesota where he received his B.S. and M.S., and then to Michigan State University where he received his Ph.D.
Before coming to Oregon State University, Davis was a lecturer at University of California at Davis for several years, instructor at Michigan State University, assistant professor at Purdue University, and dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture at the University of Nebraska. He was also a hydraulic engineer with the United States Geological Survey for one year and the Stanford Research Institute for two years.
Davis came to Oregon State University in 1971 as a professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Engineering. In May of 1972, he was appointed as the faculty representative of the Pac-10 conference for Oregon State University and in 1975 he became Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station. He was secretary-treasurer for the NCAA from 1983 to 1985 and president of the NCAA from 1985 until 1987.
He was licensed as a civil engineer in California and an agricultural engineer in Oregon. He received numerous awards for his engineering work including being named agricultural engineer of the year in 1974.
Davis is also a licensed private pilot, and a member of several distinguished organizations. He married his wife Lois in 1946. They have four children. (MDH)